I love to travel and explore the world, and Europe is my favorite place because I was born and raised there. One of the places I dreamed of was France, and even in these difficult times to travel, I was lucky enough to visit Paris in October. In addition to visiting all the major attractions, galleries, museums, during my stay I was able to visit an unusual project, the packaged Arc de Triomphe. This project was Christo's long-held dream.


Who is Christo? Hristo Yavashev - Christo is a Bulgarian immigrant, like me, who fled the regime in Bulgaria in 1958. Christo follows his dreams to create in a free world and goes to France. He goes to Paris because, according to him, the capital of art is located there. In 1961, three years after meeting his wife in Paris, Christo and Jean-Claude began creating works of art in various public places around the world. One of their projects is to pack a public building.


When he arrived in Paris, Christo rented a small room near the Arc de Triomphe and has since been attracted by the monument, which is located in the heart of Paris. During his career, he and his wife have done many different projects to transform public spaces. One of his dreams was to pack the Arc de Triomphe and transform it. Even in his early works, he thinks big, wondering what it would look like to transform something so important and public - such as the Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the Champs-Elysées. Unfortunately, he failed to realize this dream during his creative career. But at his posthumous request, the project to pack the Arc de Triomphe was carried out by his team after his death in October 2021.

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From the window of my hotel in Paris I could see the giant silver arch among the golden trees. We decided to go there as soon as we unpacked our luggage and drank a glass of fragrant double espresso to cheer up after the long flight. With each step, the feeling of touching Christo's realized creative idea made me speed up the pace. The queue for the attraction was surprisingly large, but that did not discourage me, and in half an hour we were in front of the guards and ready to check. After going through the checks of our green certificates, we headed to the tunnel that led to the Arch.


The paintings on the walls told the story of the monument. Steps filled the tunnel, and it was difficult to read everything under each picture in the dim amber light. The mask made it difficult for me to breathe, and I quickened my pace at the sight of the stream of bright light at the end of the tunnel. Fresh raindrops fell on my reddened face as I went out and took off my mask to take a deep breath of the cold autumn air. I didn't have time to think, because my attention was drawn to the silver-gray giant body of the Arch. She was standing like a giant in the middle of an island, surrounded by columns of cars, horns filling the air and drowning out little sparrows nestled in the branches of trees. Hundreds of people moved around the giant columns like an anthill.

Camera flashes, phones, were reflected by the metallic gray-blue fabric covering the Arch like a mask. We were out in the open, but it felt like a big gallery that gathered the whole world under its roof. Squeezing my umbrella, which could fly out of my hands at any moment, I slipped between the smiling faces of the people. I was smiling! Yes, something we've lost lately, smiles! I smiled back and walked to the Arch, trying not to interfere with selfies and group photos. Languages ​​united in one: German, French, English, Russian, Scandinavian, Arabic, Slavic and others, creating a melody of pleasure and wonder.


A few minutes later, I crept over to the Arch, and without waiting for an invitation, I approached to touch it. I shivered at the cold and roughness of the gray-blue fabric. When I touched it, the threads of the fabric felt like strong muscle fibers stretched around the giant's body. The red threads ran like veins through it, tying it tightly to the body of the arch. My arch looked like a large Egyptian mummy, wrapped, veiled, and ready for my next journey. Beneath the heavy material lay the graceful forms of baroque bas-reliefs depicting battles, victories, and triumphs in French history. But at that moment, this story was veiled, the forms were transformed, and the Arch had wrapped its history under a silver veil. The space was changed, one of the icons of Paris was transformed into something very elegant, clean, ready to write a new story on its walls.

When I stood in the center below her and looked up, I felt small, lost in space. The light from the spotlights accentuated the folds, the shadows, the reflections forming a network of mysterious paintings. Everyone could see something according to their imagination. I felt the power of the silver dome over my head. It was me and the wind, even the clatter of footsteps on the slabs could not disturb this moment. The wind blew under the arch, crashing into the crowd and continuing its way through the veins of Paris. It was a cold autumn day, but I felt a lot of energy around me, people from all over the world watching, watching and thinking. Smiles, wonder, shaking your head or just a moment of contemplation.


The art project received positive and negative reviews, but from my point of view it was a project that united people during a pandemic, when we are all afraid of human interaction and have become virtual avatars. The sound of applause, the smiles on people's faces, the noise of the crowd, was like a gift to me, a spark of life. This gave me hope that everything will be fine and people will find the right path again. Congratulations from strangers, hugs from friends who came to visit a gallery under the sky, something we have not seen often since the beginning of the pandemic. Art unites and is a temple of the human soul and is offered in all forms, colors, media and ideas.

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